Andy looked up from his letter and saw Leliana standing at the far end of the cove. She seemed to be watching the ocean and so he watched her for a while, intrigued by her duality. She was a good person; he strongly believed that, despite knowing what she had likely done in the past. Had she always been good? That, he could not answer. No one is all good, or all bad, she had told him. Even assassins like Diago had decency within them and deserved a second chance. His thoughts did not make him feel better about letting Diago walk free, but it helped to clarify his purpose. The tall Antivan deserved this chance to help Leliana just as much as he deserved a chance to make his own amends.
He looked back down at the letter and read it again. They loved him. Why had he thought they might not? They missed him. He missed them too, horribly. Their prayers were with him, as his were with them. They – and this part had him blinking back tears – they trusted him to do what was right and good, for himself and others. Tara and Katy had both added short paragraphs, in their own hand, each of them wishing him all the best. Pat had written the rest, but had indicated parts dictated by his mother and father. They urged him to come home, to visit, if he could. He would always be welcome, he would always be loved.
The scuff of her boot alerted him to her return, and Andy looked up from the letter, then folded it and slipped it back into his pocket.
"Ah, thank you, for that. You didn't have to go, you know."
Sinking gracefully back towards the sand, she reached towards the stack of wood and tossed another on to the flames. "I should be thanking you, Andrew, for sharing your quiet place with me."
Grinning, he dropped his head a little, nodding a couple of times. "I call it my thinking spot."
"And everyone needs a place like that."
He was sort of surprised she didn't ask about his letter, but supposed it held nothing of interest to her. Maybe she just respected his privacy. Either way, he was glad to let it go. He could read it over and over, when he needed to connect with his family, and it reminded him that he had a letter of his own to write – several, in fact. He owed Ser Rhiannon an apology, his family a thank you, and he probably owed Bann Malone some words too. That letter would take more than a few visits to this beach to plot out, he reckoned.
"Do you like to sing?" she asked unexpectedly.
"Um… well, yes? Sort of?" He didn't mind it and his sisters never objected when he joined them, though he usually preferred to dance.
"Will you sing with me? Tell me what sort of songs you like."
So he did, and they sang. He felt a bit shy at first, but the minstrel made no comments on his talent or lack thereof, she played her harp and encouraged him to clap his hands to keep the beat as she led him through different verses of songs he thought he knew. He enjoyed himself, immensely, and felt his troubles rolling off his shoulders as they worked their way towards the more ridiculous sorts of songs. A glance at the minstrel showed the same happy smile and the same brightness of eye.
When she put her harp aside, not trace of light remained in the sky and their fire had burned down to a rosy glow. Hunger curled in his gut and Andy wondered if he'd missed dinner.
"You have done the people of Highever a great service tonight, Andrew."
"I had planned to sing my troubles to them. I do that, on occasion, when my mood is melancholy. I have had sailors crying in their ale before."
"But tonight I had a friend to listen to me instead."
Andy smiled and nodded. "So did I."
Standing up, Andy brushed off his pants and then kicked more sand over their fire, smothering the coals. Likely nothing much would burn down here, but it only took a gust of wind to carry a spark above the cliff line and explaining a forest fire to the Teyrn, well… his life felt just about complicated enough right now.
Then he did the gentlemanly thing and offered to walk her back to town. She accepted, of course, and he escorted back along the beach, through the town and to the Resting Laurels.
"So where shall we meet next, do you think?" she asked when they paused outside the inn.
His serious face failed him utterly and he chuckled. "I have no idea. We'll have to leave that one to fate. But," he gave her a cheeky grin, "If I do make it to the Anderfels, I will look for you."
"I will be there."
He really believed she would be, as weird as that sounded.
"Good night, Leliana." He gave her a small bow.
"Good night, Andrew."
He was tempted to ask her to call him Andy, as his friends did, but he refrained. He liked the way she said Andrew and it made him feel sort of… grown up.